November 04, 2005
The Newspaper as a New Invention
Steve Yelvington just posted this description on E-Media Tidbits. It came a comment in this post on Attytood (my emphasis):
"... let's just imagine a newspaper as a product, one that was just invented today...
"It's a product you have to go and get in the rain, snow or wind and pull out of the hedge, the leaves or a coin-eating box on a dirty street corner. It's heavy. It's big. You're not interested in 90% of its content. And when you're done with it, you -- literally -- have to wash your hands and figure out how to properly dispose of the thing.
"Would you buy this new invention?
"Didn't think so."
Sad, but true.
Tags: Journalism, Newspapers, Media
Posted by Tim Porter at November 4, 2005 09:32 AM
It's ABOUT TIME somebody said this. And by this I mean the cumbersome "proper disposal process".
Honestly, I read better when the story is on paper vs. when it's online. But those old papers just stack up and up and up in my apartment, and the racks provide no hint as to where I can dispose of them.
... but then here's my experience. I drift out of bed about 5:30 a.m. and wander over for a steaming cup of coffee. With a mug in my hand I go out to the steet to fetch my newspaper, nicely tucked into a tube and carry it inside. I have a few minutes before the rest of the family comes down and begins to divide it up, my wife taking the crossword, my kids looking at the comics. We talk about the day's news, weather, sports, flipping through the pages and passing them around. I carry the front section into the bathroom. On the way into work, I grab the small stack of newspapers by the back door -- leaving a few to start the next fire in the fireplace -- so I can drop them off at the recycling center. It costs me about $12 a month, but it is part of a comforting routine.
Sure, I tried the alternative, lugging my $1,500 laptop home from work to pull up the online news in the morning. I could use my home computer but it isn't in the breakfast room with the rest of my family. Reading news online isn't a shared experience. I can't pass an interesting page over to my wife easily. I sure can't carry it into the bathroom. The broadband connection costs about $50 a month.
Yeah, at work, I'll read news online. But give me a newspaper in print in the morning.
Then again, would we buy a product that changes your habits, puts you at the beck and call of a lot of people, increases your chances of an auto accident, has unreasonable charges (relative to supplier cost) for its use, includes technology that is barely above Morse code, causes a massive problem in recycling, and has an unproven link to causing cancer? Yet cellphones are everywhere. (Disclaimer: I have never owned a cellphone.)
I am no fan of newspapers, or the way some of them are run, but they will be around in our lifetimes, albeit in different formsójust like magazines and radio have had to adapt and change.
I stopped buying the newspaper almost five years ago as many started becoming available on-line.
Given so many papers are now available for free on the Internet, how will the industry survive in the longer term?
I've long wondered what the post-consumer recycled content of pulp is in standard newsprint. Do you know that figure (or an estimate)? I started exclusively reading The Post on the Web about six years ago because I didn't want to participate in the energy waste of paper processing and delivery. It's surprised me how long the pulp version has lingered.
How much more would it cost newspapers to put the product on customers' doorstep each morning by a certain time? What kind of ROI would we get?
"those old papers just stack up and up and up in my apartment"
to the point that they become a health hazard: